When former US senator Ted Stevens described the internet in 2006 as a “series of tubes” he was mocked mercilessly, but as this map of the vast network of undersea cables that the internet runs through is anything to go by, he wasn’t too far off.
Last autumn, one ship passed another in the Thames estuary, a brief meeting of bookends to a whole history of British trade and seafaring. One was the HMS London, a warship which lay at the bottom of the river mouth after it was sunk in 1665 in a freak explosion.
Almost everything we own and use, at some point, travels to us by container ship, through a vast network of ocean routes and ports that most of us know almost nothing about. Journalist Rose George tours us through the world of shipping, the underpinning of consumer civilization.